Q: How do you know when someone doesn't own a TV?
A: They tell you.
Again, I like his decisions. I hope I don't sound like other posters putting him down or defensive things like he must be rich to live poor, which miss the point. He just seems to be bragging about it. Why not just not have a lot of stuff and leave it at that? If you want to inspire others, a post of a few sentences would probably suffice:
"I avoid having things I find useless and I'm aggressive about considering things useless. Some people might think I'm cheap, but I'm not. I do this on principle. When you cut out crap, you find yourself."
Did I miss anything important? Whatever those four sentences left out in content I feel they made up in brevity and punch.
Q: How do you know when someone has something from Apple?
Please don't downvote me but what's that saying again?...
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
I would place discussing TV shows / commercials, unless they spark discussion about ideas (like "that's an awesome marketing strategy/use of psychology" or "do you think the world could really be headed towards that scenario?"), somewhere between average and small minds.
You're missing out.
Not that you're missing out by not watching tv, that's pretty irrelevant, but your attitude there is pretty judgemental.
But small talk and chatter are part of the glue that bind friendships in my world. Perhaps our worlds are very different.
Same here. It's not until the conversation would falter that I offer up that I don't own a TV. The moment is pretty clear: when people are relishing their recounting of a bit and start looking frustrated when I have no nonverbal feedback to help fuel the exchange.
Being married and having a couple of kids, you have to accept your life is not just yours, it is shared with others who have needs AND wants. They like to tip a pile of toys out and choose the one they want to play with that day - I cant just get them ONE high quality toy. My wife could surely survive with just one high quality lipstick or perfume, but to deprive her of variety in things like that would be mean.
I suppose what I am saying is, when you live in a shared space, you concede optimal living and enjoy more variety.
Does family bonding really happen when everyone is staring at their own tablet? Cooking and baking are universally recognized for their family benefits going back to before written history. Parties don't happen without at least furniture, glassware and music. Play dates and sleep-overs? I guess if every kid coming over knows to bring their own stuff... What about gear for hobbies? An easel? A dremel? A drill press? Or what about vacation concerns like a fishing-pole or snowboard? Pets? Running shoes? A tea kettle?
Minimizing clutter is a great thing. But absolute minimalism is really only achievable by the young, healthy and single contingent that have seemingly no ambitions or interests beyond heads-down work and/or meditation.
I have a working room in my house where I have my desk, a computer, two guitars, and a keyboard. All "shit", but all shit I need to write and record music, which I find highly fulfilling. I also have some bookcases with books I've either read and want to keep or use fairly regularly for reference. They're not fitting in my suitcase but I'm better off with them than without them. I'm not missing out on life because I own things that I like.
I have a garage full of tools that I use to work on the house, as well as the cars that get my wife and I to work. Again, it's "shit". It "prevents" me from packing a suitcase and leaving town, but again, I enjoy the tinkering. I also have a little corner in my garage where I keep my homebrewing equipment and kegerator. While these things may shackle my existence in the world, guess what? I enjoy homebrewing.
The rest of my house is filled with functional devices as well. It's more comfortable sitting on a couch than it is the floor, so we have a couch. I, too, eat paleo and find that I need a few things in the kitchen to help accomodate that diet.
Must every hobby of ours exist within a laptop in order to achieve this weird bohemian self-actualization? If money is not an issue, is it terrible to own a few items you can't pack away in a moments notice? If I seriously wanted to skip town and go live in a foreign country for a year, it wouldn't exactly be hard to go rent a storage unit for less than $100 a month to house some of the stuff I can't take with me but wish to keep.
Stuff is fine. Shit needs to be got rid of.
Some of us can fit our stuff into a suitcase. Others need a 4 bedroom house to store our stuff. In both scenarious, there should be no "shit". Or so says the blogger.
I concede that it's subjective; my need is consciously minimalistic, and I didn't mean to bring a "catch all" judgement on everybody that owns things. Especially people with families. I do believe though that there's a strong tendency to own way more than really needed.
But every time I read about this sort of thing on-line, I find out that's not what the writer really means:
I just very sincerely don’t give a fuck.
It seems to me that those who really don't care don't bother putting their non-existent thoughts about the things they don't care about into words and then posting them to an international information network. Announcing loudly that one "doesn't care about X" is the way an adolescent shields him or herself from his own overwhelming feelings about X.
I own little, but I try and make sure that this little is reliable and safe. I buy what I want and need, of the best quality I can afford.
And it seems to me that if you truly didn't care about material possessions, you wouldn't waste the time and effort evaluating the quality, reliability, and safety of them before you acquire them, either. On a long enough time-line, everything is ephemeral. How much thought do you put into buying a paper cup?
It's easy for a geek, these days, to imagine that he's living a non-materialistic life, because his television, newspaper, telephone, phonebook, encyclopedia, almanac, dictionary, bookshelf full of books, music system, airline schedules, camera, day planner, calorie counter, robot personal trainer, star charts, robot translator, etc. all fit in one or two pockets.
The fact that those things are all software now doesn't mean you don't own them, or that they're not consuming a share of your awareness. From a certain point of view, the fact that you take this carefully curated collection of stuff with you everywhere you go may make you super-materialistic in a way that wasn't even possible just a few years ago.
What a slap in the face of all hardworking people out there that don't own shit and have no choice in that.
And no, you are not painfully aware of that. You are aware of it, but where is the pain? Just cry me a river...
I certainly cut down to two suitcases before emigrating a few years ago, and found it very liberating. In doing so I freed myself from just keeping stuff 'just in case' as I did before. I now live a much more minimal life, and feel much less surrounded by clutter.
But as a permanent way of life? Nah, no thanks. I like my bed. I like my sofa. I like my tv. I like my microserver.
Owning lots of stuff is a burden. Really is.
For example, I have enough clean clothes to go two weeks without doing laundry; four pairs of shoes (trainers, formal shoes, safety boots, dancing shoes); six sets of plates and glasses (more than I've ever needed to use at once); cooking stuff like pots, pans, spoons, whisk, scales etc; a motorcycle; a set of motorcycle maintenance tools; three different coats (regular coat, motorcycle jacket for me, motorcycle jacket for passenger); kit for several different sports; desktop computer, personal laptop and work laptop; soldering iron; digital storage oscilloscope. All stuff I need to get stuff done, but certainly more than I could fit in a suitcase.
I don't want to be surrounded by clutter, but 'having a nice household environment', which involves the ownership of a fair amount of stuff, is high up on my list of things that make my life comfortable.
I don't know anybody beyond their 20s that lives with quite such an extreme ethos about this whole thing. And most of my friends are hackers in one way or another.
That said they're also mostly British and not part of startup culture.
Friend of mine was twenty-three when his parents insisted he buy a home in Sunnyvale since 'he could afford to'. We got to the point of describing the place as an 'albatross' repeatedly, since it cost him many interesting opportunities had he not been nailed into place. He's now very happily in Japan and free of the burden of home ownership.
I'm in my thirties and I've lived in quite a few places. Yet to live somewhere and say 'Yep, this is it. Nothing else to see, this is the best culture has to offer.' and then stay there. Minimalism simply works best to achieve mobility and it's not like you cannot find partners whom also feel the same way.
I find a lot of the hostility and stereotyping over this lifestyle I see here fascinating. Buyers remorse most likely.
I meant the startup world as a fashion or a fad which seems to attract people who are into all sorts of funny ideas. I don't associate startups with productivity, certainly not often useful productivity most of the time.
I was worth about over a million dollars when I was twenty-three
and over ten million dollars when I was twenty-four,
and over a hundred million dollars when I was twenty-five and
it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.
This was a very typical time. I was single.
All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo,
you know, and that’s what I had.
I have a somewhat similar lifestyle despite being unprivileged (I am black and from one of the poorest countries in the World). I think it's just a way of life that one builds over time. I know plenty of people here who worry too much about things like latest clothes, furnitures, owning a house and other commodities which clutter their life and make them spend more money than they can possibly make. I have always tried to live only on the minimum, I started my programming carrier without even owning a computer and now I make a pretty decent living (even by western standards). I would have never done it if I accumulated sh*t.
I think things would be so much better around the World (in the developing as well as the developed World) if people just removed the clutter.
For me it is cycling. My bike is my most important possession along with the various tools, wheels, spare bikes, etc. I mean, I get the whole zen thing but life is too short to not have anything. If you do anything outdoors you need equipment (you can rent some equipment but that gets old fast).
In the past bubble it seemed like 65% of the programmers were artists or musicians and had really involved hobbies like motorcycle racing, flying helicopters, target shooting, archery, paragliding, building their own kiteboard equipment or violin or solar car, etc.
But there are women who live with far less too, even if more than what I depicted in this post.
Maybe it's all rented. Or maybe he goes to a laundrette.
These "look how minimally I live" posts are all frustrating because they all ignore the huge amounts of support the poster gets from support workers. I'd have a lot more respect for someone who claimed to live minimally if they owned 5 acres and a mule and grew their own food. I still wouldn't care much, but at least the posts wouldn't be annoying.
EDIT: And I agree with the general principle of "buy less".
However, my girlfriend is the opposite, and that works for her. Different strokes for different folks.
It strikes me as the same making racist remarks and then insisting you have black friends, (the corollary being that my unchecked privilege probably makes me an unapologetic racist in this analogy but at least that's honest, I guess)
The injustice is that other families and nations are various degrees of corrupt and ignorant. That's not necessarily his burden. In fact, the main reason that life is getting better around the globe is because advanced, "priviledged" societies invented agriculture, science, computers, refrigeration, vaccines, and so on.
I agree with you. While I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to have some perspective and context for the way you experience the world, this privilege apologism that's taken hold is absurd in my view.
Injustice? there's nothing wrong with doing well and reaping the rewards thereof, there's nothing wrong with "knowing the right people", there's nothing wrong with honest success. There's no "injustice" to "right" in this case. In many/most cases, their success is indeed a consequence of making other people's lives better - certainly nothing to apologize for, nor condemn.
I also get his never-eat-at-home idea. It just takes time and effort to buy and cook stuff which is better spent on things more enjoyable. Fortunately the health food/organic trend made it a lot easier finding healthy food alternatives.
Have you really never taken joy in preparing food for friends and family?
Cooking is a leisure activity for me, so I don't consider it a waste of time either.
I recommend Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course. Actually not kidding. It is one of the most recent eye-opening eating-incredible-food-easily-at-home shows.
Optimize for Quality: http://dcurt.is/the-best
Optimize for Experience: http://www.thoughtcrime.org/blog/the-worst/
Optimize for Utility: http://teddy.fr/2013/02/10/about-not-owning-shit/
Of course, since then stuff has accumulated a bit, especially when we had to buy the furniture from the previous tenant when renting a flat. But those we can again sell onwards when and if we decide to move out...
And it should be noted, it was nice to be able to do a move with just checked in luggage on a regular flight. No container ships or moving trucks involved:
I want to travel all around the world.
I have goal to work on the go, through internet and own things only that fit into hand luggage. Probably laptop, some clothes, sketchbook.
Although, I am going to miss my books, I think I have to store them at my parents house probably.
What I have found is that people who have traveled without knowing or caring where they end up and without too much things, only they understand why it is so freeing.
For normal 8 to 5 person, it is usually very hard to get him to travel(not meaning vacation) and even harder to get him leave all the "shit" at home.
bad english is bad.
If you enjoy this kind of lifestyle and can afford it then great, go for it. But don't pretend it's a more efficient or better way to live.
This is the part that seems to be hard for people that try to do this. Yes, in our modern world, it is amazing what you can do with a smart phone and a laptop and minimize stuff. But it also makes us very reliant on those same devices. If you have no stuff, and suddenly can't find your phone, the utopian "I don't fear losing things" goes right out the window.
(Although I will say iCloud backups certainly help with this on the phone side. I don't really fear losing anything if I lose my phone, which is nice.)
I was terrified, I had a very slim chance of actual survival (enough people die of being homeless, not being able to afford food, etc, to make it a real cause for concern, I've seen it myself) and I was young, I had only just turned 19.
My family lived in Spain and I had no choice but to move there when I was 16, but I had taught myself programming and I had a dream, one which I couldn't see being achieved in Spain, so I moved back to the UK.
When my plane touched ground, I bought a cheap SIM card and put it in to my Nokia 3310 (Retro chic, right?) and sent a text to my girlfriend to let her know I had landed and everything was okay, she lived in the UK (still with her parents) but I couldn't afford to send a text to my family, it would be weeks before my mum knew I was safe.
I took a train journey from Manchester airport to Blackburn, it was where I was born and where my girlfriend lived, it would be a good idea to start there. As I sat on the train I contemplated the finality of my decision to move - there was no going back, it was "make it" or perish.
I began searching for a place to stay for a few weeks, I compiled a list of old friends who had their own place and started ringing through, all but one of them said no, the other only said "Let me ask my girlfriend." She said no.
The first few days were some of the darkest of my life, I was sheltering myself underneath a large space heater for the town centre during the night, it provided enough warmth that I didn't get ill, but the concrete below me made it difficult to sleep, near impossible, there were times when my moods hit rock bottom and I contemplated suicide or theft, but i still didn't rent a hotel room or some other fantasy, I was saving my money, that had to go far.
3 days later, I got a call, it was my friend, letting me know he had convinced his girlfriend to let me stay for a month and a half, I would be lying now if I said that he saved my life by doing this.
I started to stay with him, there was no internet at first and the accommodation was as simple as you can imagine (I had one sofa bed and 2 plug sockets, the light bulb in the ceiling was broken, so I only had the light of my old laptop once it started to go dark.)
Sometimes, I see questions on HN, asking how someone could possibly survive with only $50,000 a year, I was surviving on about £0.25p per day, eating only tinned beans and packets of noodles, drinking water, my diet was and still is atrocious.
After a couple of months, I managed to find a job with a small web development company as an apprentice, the wages was poor but it was enough, around £300 per month, of which £68 was spent on transport (it was 15 miles from my home, some days, I couldn't afford the Bus and I would walk, i've actually become very accustomed to walking long distances, some days I can cover 1 or 1 + 1/2 marathons (23 / 35 miles) if I want to, and the pain in my feet only lasts a couple of days.)
I kept this job for 7 months, during which time I spent a further 2 weeks homeless, 2 months in a shelter, 2 months with family and 2 months again at the end with my friend, i loved the job and my boss, he was a lifeline of a sorts for me and taught me a lot.
Forward to November.
I was comfortable, in a way, I still ate cheap food and could barely afford travel, but I was able to give my friend money for the rent and to treat my girlfriend occasionally, but it has been an age since I've actually spent money on my self except for hair cuts (something I tend to wait a long period in between) and new shoes (lots of walking wears them out quickly, I average around 200 miles / pair though, so the cost comes to about £0.03 per mile.)
I was looking for a new job, I felt as though I needed more money, my new found "luxury" wasn't enough and I happened upon a company 30 miles away who wanted a junior developer, £15k per year!
I interviewed and got offered the job 30 minutes later over the phone, but it meant quitting my first job, I don't lie when I say it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, emotionally, to tell him that his only employee was leaving, but it was a necessary decision, for my own future.
Christmas came fast, but between jobs (I wasn't being hired until January) I had no money, it was a budget, I only just managed to afford a present for my girlfriend (An antique cup and saucer to replace one she smashed accidentally when making a cup of Tea (her favourite drink)) and there wasn't always money for electricity or gas, so some nights I had to lie under my blanket from 6pm just to stay warm.
Now I have my own home, 2 months later, I couldn't afford the full deposit and had to explain that I "didn't have enough money" to my new landlord, something of a kick to my pride, but he let me have it for cheaper.
Currently I have £5.62 to my name, to last me until March, but I'm happier than I've ever been, I have everything I've ever wanted (No TV, home internet or phone, but a living girlfriend and a roof over my head) and from here, I can only go up.
Poverty is not a choice we make, not directly anyway, when I moved I knew it would be hard, but not this hard. I don't know how I will get to work when my bus pass runs out next Monday, I will probably walk.
I don't know why I told my story here (heavily shortened) but all I know is this: if there is anyone else out there in the positions I've been in this past year, take heart, you are going to survive.
Every day before leaving home, I visit my bookshelf, select one of my 1-200+ books that I never read anyway and throw it away.
I smile, thinking to myself that I just made moving out of the apartment a little .. lighter.
In under one year, I won't have any books left and I'll move on to some other totally uneccessary item - like a decorative item or pair of old shoes.
Not wanting to sound like a hippie, I still think the sheer amount of "stuff" we have in our lives is keeping us pinned down.
That and I have a lot of clothes. I'm trying to make my life a bit more minimal though, and I try to avoid buying things that would require keeping now.
I think its important to find one'w own minimal footprint. Obviously it is different for each individual. Knowing it will ease the context switches (read: Location/Country change, status change, leaving the comfort zone etc...). Though, I doubt staying with the minimal footprint for a "really" long time is a viable option.
Sounds like a business model. I'd pay for it.
but at least i want some confizone at home, a good bed and stuff like that. just enough to relax and thats it.
i went from to have to much money to have like nothing, and one is for sure to have a little bit more money then u need, make things easier...what does not mean that u have to buy them.
DVDs/CDs - Barcode-scan your DVDs and CDs so you can give them away too.
Clothes - Put clothes you haven't worn for 6 months in a box. If they're still in the box 6 months later, give them away.
Selling - If you value your time, avoid selling on eBay. It's an awful UX uploading photos etc. Give away small items and don't bother selling anything under $X as it won't be worth your effort. ($X depends on how much you value your time.) Make it collection-only if you live in a big city and make it the same time for all items (e.g. "collection only at Monday 8-9pm").
Prevention is better than cure - Be careful whatever you buy. Be careful whatever crap you collect at events. These are the same items that a few months/years later are going to cause you clutter and force you to constantly be making decisions about whether to keep them.
There are a lot of boxes of my stuff sitting somewhere that will probably all go to the trash when/if I ever fetch them. Being forced to move around changed my view on a lot of things.
I've long resisted getting a Kindle, but now I am very happy for every book that is not taking up space.
Some larger things you can probably give away via classifieds or just putting them on the curb with a note.